Resilience and vulnerability factors influence the cortisol awakening response in individuals vulnerable to suicide

O'Connor, D. B., Branley-Bell, D., Green, J. A., Ferguson, E., O'Carroll, R. and O'Connor, R. (2021) Resilience and vulnerability factors influence the cortisol awakening response in individuals vulnerable to suicide. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 142, pp. 312-320. (doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.08.006) (PMID:34419751)

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Abstract

Suicide is a global health issue. Dysregulated hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity, as measured by cortisol levels, has been identified as one potential risk factor. Evidence is emerging to suggest that different psychological factors may be associated with increased resilience and vulnerability in this context. The current study investigated whether trait resilience, social support, socially prescribed perfectionism, trait worry and trait impulsivity influenced the cortisol awakening response (CAR) over a 7-day study in individuals vulnerable to suicide. 142 participants with a history of suicidal attempt or ideation (suicide vulnerability group; n = 95) and with no suicide risk history (control group; n = 47) were recruited. Participants completed baseline questionnaires before commencing a 7-day study where they provided cortisol samples immediately upon waking, at 15 min, 30 min and 45 min on 7 consecutive days. Higher worry, socially prescribed perfectionism and impulsivity, lower resilience and social support were found in the suicide vulnerability group compared to the control group. Lower levels of resilience, higher levels of socially prescribed perfectionism, worry and impulsivity were associated with significantly lower total CAR. Suicide group membership was also found to have an indirect effect on total CAR via trait worry. The current findings show for the first time, that these well-known psychological risk factors for suicide are associated with smaller total cortisol awakening responses. Researchers ought to elucidate the precise causal mechanisms linking these traits, CAR and suicide risk in order to develop interventions to help build resilience in vulnerable populations.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was supported in part by a research award from the US Department of Defense (Award No. W81XWH-12-1-0007).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Connor, Professor Rory and O'Carroll, Prof Ronan
Authors: O'Connor, D. B., Branley-Bell, D., Green, J. A., Ferguson, E., O'Carroll, R., and O'Connor, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Journal of Psychiatric Research
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0022-3956
ISSN (Online):1879-1379
Published Online:11 August 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Journal of Psychiatric Research 142: 312-320
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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